Iraq, the Unavoidable Global Trauma


8-20-07, 9:53 am

Many decades ago in Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler stated the following; 'I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.' By now we have all had a chance to evaluate the consequences of that 'will'. In 2003 an article by the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, quoted a Palestinian leader claiming Bush said to him; “God told me to strike at Al-Qaeda. And I struck them. And then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East.”

Studies conducted over the last few decades in regards to the impact of National Socialism on ordinary life in Germany during and after that period have catalogued a serious of civilian attitudes such as keeping silent, looking over one's shoulder and feeling frightened, and have moved on to evaluate the aftermath of such attitudes and the results of accepting such extreme violence perpetrated on others. A lot of these studies have shown collective signs of guilt, depression and even collective post-traumatic stress disorder.

Added to these personal repercussions as passive supporters of the atrocities, if we look further into the outcomes of the Second World War, we can see how German people were often viewed with contempt because they were blamed for Nazi crimes. Germans visiting abroad, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, received insults from locals, and from foreigners who may have had their families or friends live through or perish in the atrocities. Even today, in Europe and worldwide Germans are sometimes stigmatized by elderly people who experienced the atrocities committed by Nazi Germans during World War II.

So while as westerners we count the number of 'our' soldiers wounded or dead as a measure of success or failure in this immoral war, we tend to ignore the fact that all those Iraqis dead, injured or displaced are having a long-term impact on our everyday life. If we wait for our governments to decide when the killing has gone on long enough, I cannot help but wonder whether in the not so distant future, we as westerners will be facing a moral trial and the subjugate trauma attached to it. Just like the one faced by 'innocent' civilian Germans who once upon a time, opted to allow Hitler to flourish.

On August 10th 2007 the non-profit group Just Foreign Policy, claimed the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion stands at a shocking and sobering 1,000,985.

On July 30th 2007 a report released by Oxfam and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq said that around 8 million Iraqis are in urgent need of water, sanitation, food and shelter, and said that more than 2 million people – mostly women and children – have been displaced within Iraq and have no reliable income, while another 2 million Iraqis have fled the country as refugees, mostly to neighboring Syria and Jordan.

Although this traumatic event is confined to a particular country and region, its effects and implications are of such magnitude that they rank among those cultural phenomena that Max Weber, the German political economist and sociologist, once referred to as being of “universal significance and validity.”

If we are not courageous enough to stand up for other human beings and the carnage infringed upon them by western imperialist foreign policy, maybe we can research our recent history and reflect on the consequences of such actions on 'us' and 'our' children. Maybe then although from a purely selfish perspective, this collective acceptance of genocide will be reversed and once again we can resume the path of peaceful democratic existence. If that is not the case, I guess we are bound to the description the French philosopher Voltaire gave of our collective apathy, when he said, “no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.'

If that is our choice, just like humanity paid once the price for the 'will' of the Almighty Creator through the actions of Hitler, we are once again bound to pay the price for the 'will' of God through the actions of Bush.

--Pablo Ouziel is an activist and a free lance writer based in Spain. His work has appeared in many progressive media including Znet, Palestine Chronicle, Thomas Paine’s Corner and Atlantic Free Press.

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